March into the archives : Resin Dogs

The following interview with Jigsaw from The Resin Dogs was published in BMA in August 2000 and a different version appeared in The Canberra Times a month or two later. Pics above from their performance at the 1999 Sydney Big Day Out.

The Resin Dogs are a rare beast, a band who perform live hiphop with all of the textures you’d expect to hear on a recording. It’s a fusion that’s nicely summed up on their new CD single ‘Daily Trouble’ with its photo-collage cover. “In fact,” says sample operator and sometime disc jockey Jeff (AKA Jigsaw), “the ceiling above the crowd is hallway out at the University of Canberra although the crowd is from Adelaide.”

It was a surprise to learn that playing live was something of a new experience for Jeff given the strength of their performances. But he explains that the four core members of the band have different backgrounds with drummer Dave and bassist Chris coming from the live scene whilst Jeff and DJ Katch had been releasing mixtapes and hosting community radio shows in Brisbane.

“It’s good to have a crowd because you get an immediate response and all those other clich├ęs,” says Jeff. “And I do find that I change my songs because of a crowd’s response but when it comes to songwriting I tend to delve away from the band and go straight into my record collection. Even though I’ve got a drum machine and analogue keyboards I’ll stay away from them too. I’d rather to find a drum machine which has already been recorded because someone will have spent four hours getting the kick drum to sound huge. You can just sample it off the record and steal the production. I’ve always been hellbent on keeping everything on the track a sample, so when I write songs I try to keep it that way.”

But this style of musicianship is becoming increasingly difficult.
“Because we’re getting more exposure I’ve got to be selective in what samples we use. Which makes it a bit hard. You can always sample on note of a trumpet and then play that as a riff on a keyboard but it’s like writing a song from scratch. Personally I like writing songs where you can hear half a bar from somewhere else. Where if you listen hard enough you can find where a song has been taken out of context and used in another way. I like that deal but the legalities of it often don’t let it happen.

"There’s been some interesting stuff we’ve used. I’ve sampled a cover of the MASH theme. There’s one track on the new album with a Deborah Harry sample, a George Michael sample, a Pet Shop Boys sample and they’re all used in such a way that it sounds like it was recorded today. It’s just from taking the production on a drum sound.

"There’s a song Dave’s written which uses a Michael Jackson sample but it’s always about contributing to the sound rather than stealing a hook – if you know what I mean. I get into stuff from the late 60s and early 70s, especially parts in a song where there’s a key change. You take the bar from before and the bar or half a bar after and create something that’s not from that record. Just by getting a part that’s not a whole on its own you can get something totally different.

"Similarly a lot of the tracks on the album are stuff we’ve been playing [live] for years but we haven’t attempted to get a live sound. Eventually we’ll put out a live CD with live instruments but it’s a totally different area. It’s a lot like how when people hear our music live they’re having a ripping time because of the alcohol or whatever and if you go and listen to it on CD it’s totally different because they’re in different mindset. There are live tracks floating around but that’s a different side of the band.”